COVID-19 has had a profound impact on professional norms.
Most notably, it’s changed how most companies view remote work—with many workplaces permanently working from home or using hybrid work models. Once seen as a perk offered by few companies, usually tech start-ups, remote work has now become the new normal.
If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager with open roles to fill, you might be considering the advantages of remote hiring to help your organization continue to meet department deadlines and revenue targets. You might also be wondering about remote hiring and interviewing etiquette that emphasizes a positive candidate experience.
1. Revise your job description
As the saying goes, interviewing is a two-way street. However, top candidates who have in-demand skills or experience can afford to be selective before the interview process.
A strong job description helps attract top-tier candidates. Mention your work-from-home policies, your remote onboarding process and interview expectations (i.e. if you plan on conducting video interviews or only phone interviews) to give candidates the clearest picture possible and minimize misunderstandings.
Mention any benefits available to a new employee immediately (for example, some companies enrol a new hire in their group benefits policy beginning with their start date rather than after probation) and any perks your new hire can expect in the office (free beverages and snacks, their birthday off, RRSP employer matching contribution, etc.).
If your organization does still meet in-person—whether full or part-time—describe your workplace and its proximity to transit or local highways/major streets to help candidates visualize their future commute. If you have photos of your office or an employee Instagram, include links in your job description as a way to familiarize candidates with the “vibe” of your headquarters and employees.
2. Make your hiring process consistent
Put together a list of questions to ask all remote candidates, either during phone screenings or follow-up interviews or both. Share this list with everyone involved in the hiring decision for their input and revise accordingly.
Record each candidate’s answer while interviewing to help narrow down the list of potential hires in a way that’s quick, concise, and without bias.
Create a short blurb about the role (including essential skills, day-to-day tasks and core responsibilities) and email it ahead of the interview to each candidate to ensure they have a clear understanding of the role and its responsibilities.
Then, during the interview, ask candidates to describe the role in their own words to check that everyone is aligned on expectations.
3. Introduce a longer probation period
One of the ways to mitigate risk when hiring remotely is to introduce an extended probation period. The rule of thumb is to double your regular probation period.
An extended probation period can help new employees who are working remotely have more time to get up to speed. It also lessens the chance of imposter syndrome, where a new employee actively doubts their accomplishments and feels unable or ill-equipped to perform their job duties.
Alternatively, you could incorporate a paid test week into your interview process, where you invite your top candidates to collaborate with your team on a few projects to get a feel for the work and how they fit into your company culture—and offer the role to the most successful candidate.
4. Offer a delayed start date
If remote onboarding isn’t currently possible or difficult to implement in your organization, another option that can set you up for success is a delayed start date of a few weeks or months.
Avoid losing out on top talent by making the delayed start date clear in your job description and work with your chosen candidates as much as possible to find a date that also works for them.
Be aware that you may lose out on candidates who are keen to start as soon as possible, so it’s important to be transparent and minimize the gap between the job offer and the start date as much as possible.
5. Hire a freelancer in the interim
If you have an open role that’s critical to fill as soon as possible, consider hiring a freelancer while you continue to look for the ideal candidate.
Freelancers have experience with working remotely and autonomously, so your onboarding process can be quick and simplified. You also won’t need to screen for cultural fit when hiring a freelancer.
If the role is more suitable for an on-call consultant, prioritize your list of projects and hire a consultant to help advise and finalize launches or implementations.
6. Consider a permanently remote hire
If you aren’t finding strong candidates in your immediate area and feedback on remote work has been positive in your organization, consider making the role “permanently” remote.
Advertise the role nationally (or internationally) to get more applicants and increase your chances of making the best hire possible. Post in niche job boards that specialize in remote hiring such as WeWorkRemotely or Remote.co.